Published on 08 March 2024

Count Her In

The City of Onkaparinga is home to many remarkable women. Every woman has a story to tell, and the beauty of each story is that it is as unique and diverse as the women themselves.

Today is International Women’s Day—a day when all women are celebrated and recognised around the world. It’s also a day to reflect, unite and call for action.

This year’s theme is ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’. The aim is to highlight the importance of investing in women to spark change and create a healthier, safer, and more equal world.

Ahead of this global awareness day, we sat down with the head winemaker and general manager at McLaren Vale's Orbis Wines, Lauren Langfield, to hear her story.

Last year you were crowned the Young Gun of Wine, which recognises the country’s best young wine labels and winemakers. The win came off the back of receiving the Best New Act award the previous year.

How and why did you get involved in winemaking?

I didn’t come from a winemaking family or even a family of wine drinkers, and when I completed high school I planned to become a fashion designer—I love making and creating things. I got a job working in a vineyard in the mid-term holidays and I absolutely loved it, and soon forgot all about design school. I enrolled in a Diploma in Viticulture and Winemaking, then completed a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology too, before leaving NZ to move to Australia permanently.

In 2021 you took on the head winemaker position at Orbis Wines while bottling the first lot of wine for your own label. This wouldn’t have been an easy feat. What’s been your biggest learning curve?

I love running my own business alongside my day job at Orbis. It’s busy though, and I have to plan well to ensure I spend time with my son and husband, and with friends too. Time management is a big lesson for me, and standing up for myself too—sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme highlights the need to invest in women. Over the years you’ve developed extensive experience in vineyards and expertise in organics, biodynamics, and regenerative agriculture.

How have you invested in yourself – professionally and/or personally?

I love learning, and I am always looking for opportunities to equip myself with more skills. I completed an industry-funded Leadership and Management Diploma in 2022, and I am currently completing a Business SA Encore Entrepreneurs program.

I like to regularly set goals, and be open to new opportunities.

According to Census data analysed by Wine Australia, there were 20,217 people working in winemaking and grape growing in Australia in 2021. Women accounted for 38 per cent and 26 per cent of these figures. Despite being in a largely male-dominated field, you’re making waves in the industry.

What advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field?

Unfortunately, those statistics don’t capture the even lower number of women in senior and management positions. Women are the minority in leadership roles in our industry and it’s something we need to improve on.

I have always tried hard to learn, always upskilling and never staying stagnant. In this industry, you definitely get back what you put in. Donate your time and volunteer for industry events, you’ll make great contacts and lifelong friends along the way.

How can we, as a society, build women’s capabilities and strengthen their capacity to learn, earn and lead?

I would like to see a shift within society around the roles of parenting, moving to greater focus on both fathers and mothers taking time away from work in the early years. When we parent together with a shared responsibility, women will no longer have the associated stigma of needing greater flexibility at the workplace. If fathers insisted on more time with their families, we all benefit.  

International Women’s Day is about recognising and celebrating women.

Who are some of the inspirational women you’ve come across and how have they influenced you?

Dr Mary Retallack—a treasure of the grape growing industry and her work with the Ecogrowers Program is really inspiring. She is incredibly generous with her time and shows great kindness while achieving incredible results in her field.

Kate Goodman—who was my first formal mentor in the industry. She has shown perseverance, honesty and is a wonderful role model to all women in the wine industry. I owe her a lot for her generosity during my mentorship.

Thank you for your time and giving insight into your winemaking world.

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March and was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1977. To read more about the day and the work UN Women does visit their website.

Lauren Langfield from Orbis Wines stands in a black T-shirt and brown wide-brimmed hat among the vineyards.